House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) believes the “world is on fire” and he is not going to back down from engaging in United State’s foreign policy.
“I wouldn’t have believed that I would be involved in as much foreign policy as I am today,” Boehner said in Jerusalem to Politico. “And it certainly isn’t by choice. It’s just that the world is on fire. And I don’t think enough Americans or enough people in the administration understand how serious the problems that we’re facing in the world are.”
Boehner was in Israel visiting newly reelected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Boehner and Netanyahu made it a point before their meeting to emphasize that amid threats to Israel and the United States in the Middle East, the two countries remain strong allies, reports The Washington Post.
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"One thing remains rock solid: our friendship, our alliance, our partnership," said Netanyahu. A video of the remarks was posted by Netanyahu’s office online and may be viewed below.
The show of an unwavering relationship between the two nations by Boehner specifically adds fire to the already controversial actions the House Speaker has taken this year in regards to Israel.
Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak before Congress last month which resulted in strong criticism that he was inappropriately getting involved in foreign affairs and antagonizing President Barack Obama, as we previously reported. The speech took place right before Israel’s election.
Boehner responded to the criticism in his Politico interview by offering a negative critique of how the U.S. is managing growing uncertainty in the Middle East.
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“We’ve got some big, serious problems, and there’s no overarching strategy to deal with it. You’ve heard me say this for two years. I am even more convinced of it today,” Boehner said. “Here’s the essence of what I’ve learned on this trip: The problem is growing faster than what we and our allies are doing to try to stop it.”
Boehner added that he is concerned about the U.S.-led talks with Iran and is surprised by “the boldness of the Iranians” in exerting their influence in the region.
“[The] trouble they’re causing,” Boehner said, “raised my eyebrows.”
Regardless of how the talks with Iran play out, Boehner said Congress will change U.S. policy toward Iran. If no deal is made, Congress would pass a bill imposing new sanctions, he said. If a deal is reached, he will review it, and is sure “we’ll have a reaction.”
Boehner believes Obama is too eager to cut a deal.
“What bothers me is it looks like the administration is so hungry for a deal just to have a deal so they can say they have a deal,” Boehner said. “The rest of the world wants something real out of this.”
When Boehner returns to the U.S., he plans to meet with Obama and discuss foreign policy.
“When you look at what we’re doing, we’re involved with some allies trying to hold Iraq together,” Boehner said, referring to what he plans to discuss with Obama. “We’re involved with some of our allies in trying to deal with ISIL. And we’re in these talks with the people who describe us as Satan, like we’re going to come to some agreement with the Iranians, while they’re spreading terror all over the Middle East.
“We’ve got allies who are doing a little of this and a little of that. But when I talk about overarching strategy, what I’m talking about is a large plan that involves intelligence, it involves the military, it ought to involve Islamic leaders, there ought to be a communications operation — there are lots of components of this that need to happen and be coordinated with our allies if we’re going to tackle this problem.”
One area where Boehner believes change needs to occur is in Iraq, where the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is taking over areas of the country. He thinks the U.S. should repurpose troops to help the Iraqi army fight more efficiently. He said that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s allowance of Iranian soldiers to help patrol Tikrit was an “embarrassment to our country.”
“We have nearly 4,000 troops there today,” Boehner said. “And they are mostly advising and training. But I think, frankly, if we had some of those people out in the field helping to direct, it would help the Iraqi forces in a big way. So those are boots on the ground, but we’re not talking about sending 100,000 people in there.”
The Obama Administration has sought a resolution to authorize military force against ISIL, but Boehner is skeptical that the proposal will ever reach Capital Hill.
“If I see a strategy that I think can work, then you can write an [Authorization for Use of Military Force] that supports it,” Boehner said. “But when the president asks for less authority than he has today, you begin to scratch your head. And, secondly, I think they’re looking at this entire problem with blinders on. They need to take a broader view of a bigger strategy to deal with these growing problems.”
As for Israel, the reported tension between Obama and Netanyahu is seen by Boehner as a “little political spat” and that the relationship is not expected “to get any worse,” only better.
For Boehner, the relationship the U.S. and Israel have is necessary.
“At the end of the day, we need them and they need us,” Boehner said. “And OK, so you got two people who may not be in love with each other, but the fact is we’re great allies and there’s a lot going on in the world and we need each other.”